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Frank Gray

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Killer's secrets locked away


The ceiling in Courtroom 3 on the third floor of the Allen County Courthouse is covered in intricate carvings surrounding what appears to be a stained-glass skylight. The walls are topped with more carved friezes and spiraling Corinthian columns that line the meticulously painted scagliola walls.

One could call the room among the most elegant in the county, or even the state.

So it is ironic, in a way, that some of the ugliest events in our community ultimately end up getting played out in the room.

That's where some of the most cold-blooded people end up.

Monday afternoon, at 1:30 sharp, a man who could be described as among the very worst, a squat, heavyset guy in a washed-out orange and white striped jail jumpsuit, walked into the room, his hands shackled to a chain around his waist, and then sat at a table.

His name is Michael Plumadore, the man who beat Aliahna Lemmon to death with a brick three days before Christmas, then stuffed her into trash bags and put her in his freezer for a while before he dismembered her body with a hacksaw and dumped most of her body in a trash bin at a nearby store.

He left her head, hands and feet in his freezer. For three days, he acted befuddled about her whereabouts.

His act will go down as one of the most savage, vicious crimes to occur in Allen County, and one that will not be forgotten for at least a generation.

Monday's 27-minute hearing was all done in the tidy legal language that courts use, and Plumadore was sentenced to life without parole, plus an extra 36 years for other offenses, to be served consecutively.

Oh, a relative of Aliahna did speak briefly. Plumadore, who spent much of the hearing staring at the table in front of him, looked up when the relative began to speak but then looked back at the table in front of him, where he continued to stare for the entire hearing.

Plumadore spoke briefly, saying he was sorry, but it was difficult to hear, and, to me, in a way, difficult to believe.

One still wonders, though, what kind of man this is, a man who committed a crime that can be judged the worst of the worst in justifying a sentence of life without parole plus additional time.

I can't help but recall the story based on an interview a Journal Gazette reporter had with Plumadore on Christmas Day, two days after Aliahna was reported missing. He had no idea what could have happened to her, Plumadore said. He thought her mother had picked her up.

One got the impression he could have been talking about a lost set of car keys, not a little girl who had disappeared – whose body parts were in a freezer not far away.

When he finally confessed, police indicated he just laid out the facts.

From the news reports there was a real coldness about Plumadore. That causes one to wonder a lot of things about this 39-year-old man.

Is there more to his background than assault, trespassing, forgery and car thefts? Why had this man become good friends with a man who had just gotten out of prison on a child molesting charge? Why had he put himself in such a position to have access to Aliahna?

We won't know. Plumadore, who had lived in many cities around the country, from the Carolinas to Florida to Missouri before coming to Fort Wayne, is something of a mysterious figure to me, and one who deserved the death penalty for what he did to a 42-pound girl just a couple of days before Christmas.

I understand the prosecution's decision to settle on what amounts to more than 100 years in prison instead of pursuing the death penalty, which could have taken decades to conclude.

He's being held accountable, and as one member of the prosecution was overheard telling Aliahna's family after the hearing had ended, he'll die in prison.

We'll have to accept that as the answer to all our lingering questions.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others' experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter (@FrankGrayJG).